INTRODUCTION OF BIOMEDICAL WASTE
Biomedical waste is any type of waste that is generated or produced at the time of performing research, giving healthcare and undertaking investigations or related procedures on human beings or animals.
This waste may come or produced from hospitals, clinics, laboratories or similar establishments. Biomedical waste is also known as hospital waste. It is more dangerous as well as offensive as compared to domestic waste.
CHARACTERISTICS OF BIOMEDICAL WASTE
- Biomedical waste contains infectious or other hazardous materials which can harm to anyone at large in several ways.
- These materials may injure, infect or harm patients, their visitors, hospital personnel and also the public.
- Waste may contain sharp materials like needles or broken glass, harmful chemicals, radioactive materials that may cause injury and infection.
- If this waste won’t get proper treatment, fermentation may occur due to which various insects, birds and animals are attracted.
- It causes filthy and unhygienic condition of the site of generation and storage as well.
- It can also attract rag pickers. They may collect and repack disposables or drugs and may sell them to earn.
- This waste can be serious pollutants of different environmental components like soil, air and water so should be treated properly before discarded.
Governments across the world have been forced to introduce the legal restraints in this area. Persons who are in charge of medical and other institutions are legally responsible for managing this type of wastes according to the conditions prescribed in the rules.
TYPES OF BIOMEDICAL WASTE
The amount of bio-medical waste generated may vary from country to country but talking about India, it is estimated that 1 to 2 kg per bed per day is produced.
The bio-medical waste may be of different types which on average, 85% is harmless and only 15% is hazardous which is infectious type in nature.
a) Harmless Waste:
Harmless waste is the type of bio-medical waste which contains paper, cartons, flowers, cardboard and ordinary office or kitchen waste.
b) Infectious Waste:
Infectious waste is the type of bio-medical waste that may carry or transmit any type of pathogenic microbe.
SOURCES OF INFECTIOUS WASTE
- Any pathological fluid or discharges.
- All microbial cultures.
- Used syringes and needles, used scalpel blades and other ‘sharps’.
- Placenta and other products of conception.
- Biopsy, surgery or autopsy content that may be tissues or organs.
- Dressings, swabs and other soiled items.
- Laboratory samples sent to microbiology, pathology and biochemical test.
c) Non-infectious hazardous waste
This type of bio-medical waste can be chemical, radioactive and pharmacological waste.
- Chemical waste includes toxic, corrosive, inflammable, reactive and injurious substances.
- Radioactive waste includes radioactive substances.
- Pharmacological waste includes surplus or time expired drugs.
GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF WASTE MANAGEMENT
A clean and tidy environment is essential for effective waste management as waste tends to accumulate in dirty environment. The hospital and its surroundings should be maintained in a clean and hygienic state. Some practices related to good housekeeping is essential.
Also, frequent soap and water washing, mopping is required. The objective of this waste management is to prevent any harm that results from the waste and also minimizing the quantity of the waste, retrieving the reusable materials and ensuring safe and economical disposal.
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There are various steps of waste management. They are:
STEPS OF WASTE MANAGEMENT
Reduction in volume of the waste can be maintained by proper planning and using reusable items wherever safely possible.
It refers to the separation of waste on the site of generation into different types with respect to their category and mode. When harmful waste are mixed with harmless waste like paper, cartons, packaging materials they all get contaminated and the quantity of the waste is increased which are also to be autoclaved, instead of only the originally infected items. Thus, different coloured containers can be used as prescribed in the rules for segregated waste.
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It refers to safely storing the waste at the point of generation till they are sent to biomedical waste treatment facility.
It means transferring the waste from the storage site to the treatment facility site.
It refers to those activities and processes involved to reduce the bulk of waste and make it non-infectious and harmless.
There are several methods of waste treatment which are available and the choice among the methods depends on the type of waste and the facilities available. Some methods of waste treatment are as follows:
WASTE TREATMENT METHODS
1. Chemical disinfection
- Used for many items in small healthcare settings such as clinics.
- Before final treatment of some items, it can be a good preliminary process.
- Contaminated materials like sputum, pus are treated chemically for disinfection before buried or autoclaved.
2. Deep Burial
- Convenient method of disposing waste.
- Generally large area that is uninhabited is preferred more for it.
- After disinfected with chemicals, this waste is buried in deep trenches.
- Then after, it is covered with lime and filled with soil.
- ‘Sharps’ can also be disposed by this method.
- It is the process of burning of solid infectious waste in high temperature and converting them to ash.
- This turns the 10th part of the waste to one part.
- Amputated limbs, anatomical waste, animal carcasses and similar wastes are treated using this method.
- This method is though expensive and is mostly used by large establishments.
- This method is widely used in laboratories and also in clinics for treating infectious waste before their disposal.
- Small volume of waste uses this method of treatment at the point of generation.
- Though not applicable for animal or human body parts, metals items or toxic and radioactive material.
- Mixing of waste with cement and some other substances before disposal.
- It minimizes the migrating of the waste content into the surface water or ground water.
7. Liquid waste
- They are disposed to sewer but before it these waste is treated with disinfectants or reagents and neutralized.
- Proper disposal of hospital waste is most essential.
Bio Medical Waste Management